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Knowing enough

Are you one of those classical music lovers who apologizes for not knowing enough? Do you worry that your love of classical music somehow doesn’t count as much as the love of experts? Here’s what I think.

I think human beings like to know things, and it’s fine – in fact it’s wonderful – for audiences to be musically knowledgeable and experienced, if only because in music as in all the arts – and as in football and cooking, for that matter – with added knowledge and experience come added levels of appreciation. But great music speaks to us in many ways, and in different ways to different people. And it’s just as important to remember that even if I don’t know the difference between a nickel back and a pulling guard, I can still take great joy in my team’s touchdowns; and I can love the flavors of a dish even if I can’t name them. And who can measure joy? And who can say if one love is deeper than another?

A Minute with Miles is a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.

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Miles Hoffman is the founder and violist of the American Chamber Players, with whom he regularly tours the United States, and the Virginia I. Norman Distinguished Visiting Professor of Chamber Music at the Schwob School of Music, in Columbus, Georgia. He has appeared as viola soloist with orchestras across the country, and his solo performances on YouTube have received well over 700,000 views.